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The Gumbeaux Sistahs

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Jax Frey and her novel The Gumbeaux Sistahs.

Author’s description of the book:

Five Southern women wage a hilarious war against the ageism problems of one of their deep-in-trouble sisters using their improbable friendships, evil-genius schemes, oh-so-numerous cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo.

When southern artist, Judith Lafferty, loses her long-time, prestigious museum job to a much younger man, she finds herself devastated, alone in her sixties, and on the brink of financial disaster. Enter the incomparable Gumbeaux Sistahs, who deliver day-old coffee to her front door as a ploy, then go on to kidnap her, feed her excellent gumbo, and come up with outrageous solutions to her problems. Their motives are just good excuses to drink wine, have a great time, argue over whose mother makes the best gumbo, and, most of all, help a sister out. Ageism, dangerous boyfriends, deep loneliness, and any other challenges that can face the over fifty crowd don’t stand a chance against these five resourceful ladies. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is a heart-warming, smart story of friendship and unexpected shenanigans that you do not want to miss.

About the Author:

Born in New Orleans, Jax Frey came into this world, whooping and hollering, with a sense of love and celebration of Louisiana culture, food, family and fun.  Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling.  Her colorful art depicts everything-Louisiana from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings.  Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist.

Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization started in Covington, LA, where Jax lives today with her lovable, tornado-of-a-pug named Lucy. The Gumbeaux Sistahs is her debut novel.

You can find  Jax Frey on her website or on Facebook. Email her at jaxfreyart@gmail.com. Also visit this website to see her art!

A Personal Note from Me:

I knew when I read Jax Frey’s biography that I had to host this book. For one thing, I lived in Lafayette Louisiana for nearly seven years. While gumbo has never been my specialty, I did leave Louisiana with a great etouffee recipe given to me by a local. It’s still a staple of my cooking. Believe me, food from this region is more than something to eat. It’s a whole philosophy of life!

But more importantly, I love the her organization Women of Infinite Possibilities, so I’ve included a link to it as well. The website says “Women of Infinite Possibilities was founded in September 2009 as a non-profit organization dedicated to touching the lives of one-thousand women in a powerful and meaningful way.” Wow. Sounds like they’ve done that and more.

Purchase The Gumbeaux Sistahs on Amazon

Yes there is a giveaway:

Jax Frey will award a randomly drawn winner a $25 Amazon/BN GC and will award a second randomly drawn winner a print copy of the book (US only).

Enter here to win

My favorite excerpt:

“While he talked, he kept slamming his fist against the countertops. He threw things like the salt and pepper shakers and the tea kettle across the room, and slammed a couple of open drawers shut. Each slam sounded like a gunshot to me. He went on and on. Luke always did like the sound of his own voice. I sat there waiting for the first punch, the first shove, the first something. I remember thinking that I knew he wouldn’t stop this time. I knew Luke was getting ready to kill me. I waited for the end. And I know this sounds crazy, but I remember that I was thinking that poor Bea was going to come home to a horrible mess in her house. Isn’t that the craziest thing?”

“You’re a kind person. It doesn’t surprise me a bit, honestly. Did he hurt you badly, Helen?”

“No,” she said, simply, “Bea killed him.”

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish.

Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in art for peace, other authors, writing

 

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Available Now as an Audio Book!

One of One has been turned into an audio book! It wasn’t easy, and to be honest it wasn’t cheap, but worthwhile things often aren’t. I have to hope this is one of those worthwhile things.

It’s available here directly from Audible. ($13.97)

It’s available through One of One’s Amazon sales page. (Obviously just pick “audiobook.”)

It’s also on iTunes for $17.99, easily found under Audiobooks > Sci-Fi & Fantasy > S. R. Cronin.

I’m pleased with the final result. The narrator has a rich voice, honed by years of class room teaching. He’s intimately acquainted with the nuances of the story.

He built a special soundproof room in which to do this, and invested in a fair amount of professional grade equipment as well. Most chapters were recorded all or in part several times, until he was happy with the results. Then he had me listen to them and fixed anything I didn’t like.

Did I mention that I’m married to him?

No, I didn’t marry him in order to get him to record the book; we’ve already been married for a while. He offered to do this under a pen name for me, so it wouldn’t sound like I was related to my narrator. I declined. I think its kind of cool the way it is.

I was also very happy with the local (Asheville) sound engineer we found to turn our DIY efforts into something more polished. For a non-trivial but also not ridiculous fee, he smoothed our files into something more professional, added in a special sound for my many scene changes, created our audio sample and helped us craft the “intro and outro” sections.

Please listen and see what you think.

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2019 in One of One, writing

 

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An Irish Worldcon: I’m here!

A year ago today, I set off on a four week cross-country trip alone, visiting the high plains town I grew up in, the mountain cabin I wrote my first short story in and spending days at Burning Man. It was an amazing trip. Now, probably because I just finished season 3 of The Good Place, I’m fascinated with unintended and even unexpected consequences. It’s no surprise, that trip had many.

One of them was meeting someone who’s mother lived in my hometown in North Carolina. Months later, the mom and I met to share a glass of wine. We discovered we both loved science fiction, and by the end of the conversation (and the bottle of wine) we were talking about attending Worldcon 2019 together in Dublin. I’m still not sure how our conversation got there.

And yet, here we are. You gotta love how things sometimes work out.

This is my first worldcon, and hers, and we’ve both selected a non-stop itinerary for five days of panels and workshops and readings by author’s we like and, well, we’ll see just how much of this actually works out…

I’ve also volunteered for a few things, and it looks like that will keep this all interesting. I’ll be helping out at the Science Fiction Writers Association reception on Thursday and their table on Friday. I’ll be handing out worldcon volunteer assignments in the staff lounge three of the days. Most exciting of all, I’ve signed up to help with the stage crew of the opening ceremony and the Hugo awards which will be given out Sunday night.

My specific assignment? I’m going to get to run one of the spotlights! For some bizarre reason, I find this very exciting.

I’ll be posting more as the week goes on …

Read more at And the winner, she is …., at Feeling at home , at Forward into the Past and at A New Irish Experience.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2019 in being better, other authors, travel, writing

 

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Would this ad work for you?

There is something more difficult than creating that first draft of a work of fiction, at least for me. It’s called writing an ad. Yet I am as determined to market my new novels as I was to create them. I just have no feel for it.

So, I did what any of you would advise. I talked to experts. (Or at least to people who were successful at marketing their own books and willing to talk to me.) They had a lot of great advice, particularly about what to bother with and what to ignore. I consolidated their opinions into this:

Go with Kindle Select no matter how much you don’t want to, and put your time and money into advertising on Amazon and Facebook.

This was simple enough. I could do it.

They advised I buy and read the books they’d turned to. I bought them all. Two were on writing advertising copy, one was on how to use Facebook to sell books, and the other on using Amazon. I’ve read them, pretty much cover to cover now. With notes. And highlighters. I’m very thorough.

I started with Amazon Lock Screen Ads. My first ad is at the top of this post. It got 5,418 impressions which seemed like a lot to me but my books tell me it is woefully inadequate. 16 wonderful people clicked on it, none of them bought it, and I spent $2.26. I was fine with this as learning exercise.

I tried again. This time I tried to be more witty. Maybe I was. I only got 5026 impressions, but 63 people clicked on this one. Four times as many clicks cost me $11.47 and no one bought it. This was a slightly more expensive lesson on the learning curve.

My third attempt was wildly successful. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t target every genre and category I could possibly fit into. I only targeted women’s fiction and I wrote the ad for the audience. I got 98,215 impressions, and 439 clicks. Cool, huh?

Unfortunately, I want sales, not attention. All those clicks cost me $63.30 and as far as Amazon can tell, I made one sale from this. Yup, I spent sixty some dollars to make two. Not good.

I did get a bunch of page reads through Kindle Select all of the sudden, so maybe I picked up an extra ten or twenty dollars there. I’m not going to last long spending sixty to make twenty, though.

I decided the careful targeting of one group at a time could be the secret sauce I was seeking, so I created a bunch of ads designed to appeal to every subgroup I could think of. None did very well, but my absolute worst was this ad designed to appeal to readers of Literature & Fiction: Action & Adventure and Mystery, and to Thriller & Suspense: Kidnapping and Paranormal. (It’s not so far fetched. The book is about two telepaths rescuing a kidnapped sister.)

It got five impressions. Period. No clicks at all. The good news is it didn’t cost me anything.

My creative campaign didn’t even show a version for Kindle Fire. I can’t tell if it is because it did so poorly, or it did so poorly because it was never shown on Kindle Fire. (If anyone knows how this works, please tell me!)

Back I went to more generic ads. My next most successful one was an exact repeat of an earlier ad, targeting pretty much the same groups. But it managed 16,829 impressions and 43 clicks. Why?

It also never showed an ad version for Kindle Fire. Why not?

The most exciting part was that I managed to sell another whole book and this time I only spent $19.08 to do it. Wahoo. With the Kindle page reads, I could be approaching breaking even.

Of course, breaking even is not the point. I am determined to keep at this, figure out what works and why and find a way to actually make money.

For more about my Amazon advertising adventures see “How about this ad?

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2019 in being better, writing

 

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Fresh Off the Starship

As soon as I read the blurb, I knew I had to read Fresh Off the Starship. I grew up in Kansas, love science fiction, and can’t find enough things these days to make me laugh.

So let me welcome Ann Crawford, and her fun book “Fresh off the Starship,” to this blog.

From the Auhor: Love to laugh? You’ll enjoy this feel-good tale.
A starbeing skyrockets to Earth from the other side of forever with a specific assignment: to help steer humanity away from the collision course it’s on. But we all know how travel can get drastically diverted–instead of landing in Washington, D.C., where she could assist on a grand geopolitical scale, she ends up in…Kansas!
Wrong place, right time? Join our shero on this whimsical journey as she pursues her purpose as well as discovers the beauty of life and love on Earth.

Ann Crawford says:
I’m a fun-loving, world-traveling, high-flying, deep-diving, and living-to-the-max author of eight books. When I’m not flying planes, scuba diving, climbing every mountain (on the back of my husband’s motorcycle) or riding the world’s fastest roller coasters, you can find me in my writing nest with a view of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains out the window. I’ve lived all over–from both oceans white with foam, to the prairie, and now to the mountain. Yes, a little backwards, but what the hey.
My bestselling and award-winning novels go as high and deep as I do—they’re profound yet funny; playful although poignant; heart-opening and heart-lifting; thought-provoking and inspiring; and edgy while universal. I’m also a screenwriter and award-winning filmmaker and humanitarian.

You can find information about Ann and her books on her Amazon Author Page, and on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Goodreads.

Giveaway: Ann Crawford will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Learn more, and register to win!

My full review: 

I couldn’t put it down. I intended to read this book over a few days, but laid it aside reluctantly on day one (company was coming) and zipped thru the rest on day two. I applaud (and thank) the author for creating a world that held me spellbound and happy for many hours.

What I liked best:

  1. Yes, it made me laugh. In some ways it reminded me of a modern (and more enlightened) Stranger in a Strange Land. Who can’t chuckle at an alien being wondering what a vibrator is?
  2. Nothing will make one more grateful for ordinary life than an outsider’s perspective. I dare anyone to read this book and not really enjoy the next shower they take!
  3. The book is told from the perspective of an alien being (she prefers to be called a star being). It’s not a trivial thing to pull this off. Kudos to the author for making her star being a sympathetic narrator.
  4. I liked her overall view of the world. It’s kind, gentle and positive. There is plenty of dark stuff out there to read and I found this novel to be a nice change of pace.
  5. It held my interest. The writing was fine, the pacing was good and I had so many questions. That’s high praise.

What I liked least:

Allow me a short insert here. It continues to amaze me how the reading of a novel is a dance between the author and the reader. Some people simply dance better together than others. As an author, I accept not everyone will enjoy my books. As a reader, I understand my complaints about a novel say as much about me as they do about the writer. Please consider this when reading what is below, and do keep in mind I enjoyed this book.

  1. Accents: I’ve never been too fond of spelling words the way people talk, and I quickly tired of the fer (for for) and t’al (for towel) and so on. I suppose my growing up in Kansas didn’t help 🙂 but honestly I don’t care for drawing attention to accents. On the whole I prefer to let people be people when they talk, and not risk making them into “others.”
  2. New age: This one is tough. I outright believe in or am open to most new age concepts. Yet whenever I find a more enlightened being in fiction explaining to a poor human how the things that make them cry into their pillow or toss and turn all night are really their own choices, designed to help them grow, it sounds glib and insensitive. (Even if it could be true.) I credit this author with making an effort to have her star being appreciate human struggles and empathize with pain, but this dynamic has yet to work for me.
  3. Romance:  Ah, it makes the world go round. I find it delightful in real life and lovely as a side plot, but I’m always disappointed when the climax and ending center around getting lovers together. That particular ending makes it a romance novel, in my opinion, and I don’t particularly like romance novels. There were so many things I wanted the climax to be about: outer space or politics or star beings or saving the world …. Ah well, that’s me.

In spite of my complaints, I’d recommend this book to anyone, actually. I suspect its ideal demographic skews towards females, and those open-minded about new age beliefs (and open minded in general.) None-the-less, it’s a quick and fun read and I think most humans would find something to enjoy in this alien-out-of-water tale.

I don’t think there is near enough bandwidth in a 5 star rating, so I go for decimal points and round off when I re-post on Amazon, Goodreads and Library Thing. I give this book a solid 4.1

I did received a free pdf copy of this book from Goddess Fish, the value of which would never be enough to entice me to write a better review for anyone. 🙂

A Guest Post from Anne Crawford

This first paragraph is primarily directed to Sherrie, but readers, too: I was reading your blog and was fascinated to find all the information on telepathy and peace. I love it! I’ve spent a great deal of my life working for peace and following spiritual pursuits. I was also fascinated by the information about 3 in 4 Americans believing in the paranormal, especially ESP. Most fascinating of all, my book takes place in Western Kansas, where you grew up! I “accidentally” found you on Twitter the other day, before I knew you’d be hosting a stop on my blog tour. What a small world.

Fresh off the Starship is definitely about the paranormal, a walk-in from the far side of the universe. It explores social issues, deep wisdom, diverse spirituality, and…it’s funny!

The book came to me so quickly – over two nights as I was driving back and forth across Kansas to and from a conference farther east. I wrote and published it in 5 months! It just came….downloaded….whatever you want to call it…and I took dictation. I often speak into the Notes feature on my iPhone, and this time I must’ve spoken half the book into my phone.

I’ve wanted to write about something that takes places in Western Kansas ever since my husband – a former Kansas farmboy – took me there; I met his wonderfully charming relatives and fell in love with the land. I’m from the East Coast and lived on the West Coast for most of my adult life. When I tell people I lived in Kansas, their eyes glaze over…like I’m sure mine did at one point. I wanted to show these Kansas folks’ depth, sincerity, and wisdom – they’re definitely not the bunch of “hicks” so many may think.

I heard a line from the movie Starman many years ago – something along the lines of “You humans are at your best when you’re at (facing) your worst.” I’ve wanted to create my own starbeing for decades and have to look through her eyes to see how beautiful we humans can be and how amazing life on Earth is. It was really fun to have to imagine taking a sip of water for the first time as well as the many other fun things humans engage in.

I received a call from someone who professes to go aboard the Starship Bethlehem, comes from another world, and works with alien abductees. She said, “You nailed it!” regarding the walk-in experience. Well, that’s good, as I really have no idea what walk-ins experience.

I’ve never seen an alien or a walk-in, are far as I know…but I hear they’re all around us all the time. I have, however, seen spaceships. I was walking into work one day and happened to look up at the sky. Three “ships” were darting about. They were far too fast and fluid to be planes and way too big to be birds. Plus they glinted in the sun and were round.

I glanced around me to see if anyone else was looking at them, and no one noticed me! Here was this 6’ woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk staring at the sky, and no one turned to see what I was looking at or bumped into me or even seemed aware that I was there. It was a wild moment. I pulled out my cell to try and video them. Nada. Nothing showed up. Oh, well. When I told my husband later, his comment was, “Your ships are coming in!” LOL.

I sure look up at the sky a lot more since then. This was in the middle of writing Fresh off the Starship, too. So maybe they helped. I certainly haven’t written and published any other books within 5 months.

Thanks Ann, for your post and for letting me read your refreshing book!

This review is part of a book review tour sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions.

If you are interested in a review from me: I read speculative fiction of all sorts, have a fondness for metaphysical tales and particularly like stories with a strong female protagonist. I will consider novels of almost all types that relate to the general theme of world peace. I am not interested in reviewing non-fiction, romance novels, stories which promote any particular religion, children’s books, or horror of any type. Please do not ask me to review books about vampires or zombies. If you would like to be considered for a review please send all the usual information to Lola (dot) Zeitman (at) gmail (dot) com.

 
 

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How does she really look?

It turns out I really enjoy book covers. I like looking at them, I like thinking about them, and I love working with professional designers to make them.

I’ve had such fun as these six covers for my re-released collection-in-progress were created, that I hate to see the cover design part come to a conclusion. Aren’t they lovely?

What I’ve enjoyed most is seeing my main characters come to life.

When I first wrote One of One (called x0 at the time) I was obsessed with giving form to my mental picture of Lola, the main character. I wished I could draw well enough to show the world how she looked. I can’t, so I scoured Shutterstock for artists images that captured what I was seeing in my mind. These were some of my favorites.

When I decided to rename the books, I needed new covers. Current fashion is to show the characters, so it looked like I had to find someone who could show the world what Lola really looked like, and would do it at a price I could afford. I found a group called Deranged Doctor Design.

For each cover, DDD found Shutterstock models whose faces were “close enough” to my main characters, and then the faces were altered (if necessary) to make them more accurate. Then the head was stitched onto a body that worked well with the cover design and character. (This process, I presume, yielded the name of the company. I mean what kind of deranged doctor stitches heads onto new bodies?)

The first head DDD proposed for Lola wasn’t right.  She looked too young, but it was more than that. It just wasn’t Lola. I could tell.

The second head looked right as soon as I saw it. What I didn’t know was that the model was blonde, and a creative designer at DDD had already turned her yellow tresses just slightly darker, into a more coppery brown.

The only change I requested was to make her blue eyes brown, which the designer did with no problem.

When it came time to create the last cover, we needed Lola to make a second appearance, but not with an identical face. Unfortunately this particular model didn’t have many options to choose from.

Third from the right had been used. I liked the second one, but it lacked all trace of superhero steel. The first one had an interesting wistful tone, but not really right either. That left #4.

The first version of the cover came back with Lola looking like this. That’s right, the model is blond but the character isn’t.

I was good with her expression, but her blonde hair and blue eyes had to go.

No problem.

Here she is with her darker hair and yes she looks more like Lola. Eyes will be brown in the final version coming on Monday.

It’s funny how she is close to what I saw in my head all along. It’s even funnier that now when I picture Lola, this unnamed model with her altered hair and eyes is the image I have. I guess this is what she really looks like.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2019 in my other novels, One of One, writing

 

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Watch what you ask for.

Do you get what you want, or do you get what you need?

I had a spirited discussion about this once with a psychologist. I was praising the wisdom of the Rolling Stones; she was sharing her professional observations. We were at a party and it was lucky no nearby cynic entered the conversation arguing people don’t get either.

It is a conundrum, though, isn’t it. You ask for something you think you want, only to discover….

So, a couple of days ago I got this cover proposal for book 5 in my 46. Ascending collection. I loved it, as did others who saw it. This is Ariel, my precog, and Cillian, the Irish prophet who sees the probable end of the human race. They aren’t romantically involved and in fact their powers make even casual touch between them painful.

I asked the designer to put some space in between them, and while she was at it could she please make the ocean behind them more obvious. I like the ocean. It plays a role in the book. I wanted more ocean.

Back came this lovely cover. They aren’t touching, which is good. There is more ocean, but it came at the expense of those gorgeous rocks and thunderclouds and blue lights off to the left. Oh no. Those were the things I liked most about the first cover. I didn’t realize I’d have to lose them to get a little more sea.

That’s the way it works, isn’t it? You can get what you want, but you probably have to give up something else and it may be something you want more. Or something you need. Back to the old expression. Watch what you ask for.

 

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2019 in my other novels, writing

 

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